Resorts Warm Up with Winter Cocktails
After a long day on the slopes, nothing quite eases the aches and pains like a good drink.
For Brian Sbrocco, the perfect end to a recent day of skiing was a beer float.
Yes, a beer float.
"It's not quite the root beer float I grew up on," Sbrocco said. "It's one of the concoctions that you wouldn't normally do; you wouldn't combine beer and ice cream but it blended it beautifully."
The drink at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Avon, Colo., is just one of the latest trendy cocktails designed for those coming off the slopes.
Skiers have always sought out a refreshing drink or two after a day of racing down the mountain. Every afternoon, they can be seen unbuckling tight boots and heading into slopeside bars. Beer flows freely while a cheesy guitarist or cover band wails away.
But now resorts are making apres ski a bit fancier, with drinks that leave weary skiers shouting, "Another round, barkeeper!"
With his beer floats, Christian Apetz, the executive chef at the Park Hyatt, has taken a childhood favorite and added a bit of kick. All floats feature local beers and ice creams or sorbets made in house at the hotel.
In one drink, he's paired the New Belgium Brewing Company's 1554 Enlightened Black Ale with a regional version of rocky road ice cream called Rocky Mountain Road, plus raspberry-Champagne sorbet. Another drink takes the Left Hand Brewing Company's Milk Stout and pairs it with cocoa sorbet.
"This is a perfect way to end a day on the slopes," Apetz said. "Parents will order a float and enjoy it outside next to the fire while their kids" take part in the Hyatt's free, post-skiing tradition: making s'mores.
Sbrocco said he would have never thought to put such combinations together but found it refreshing after a day on the slopes.
"I don't think I could have more than one because it was pretty rich," said the 41-year-old skier from Austin, Texas.
On the other side of the mountains, the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo., has just taken one of the oldest ski town drinks and added a twist.
During Prohibition, the Colorado hotel's saloon was converted into a soda fountain. But that didn't stop the alcohol from flowing. Patrons were known to have a few shots of bourbon in their French vanilla ice cream milkshakes. The drink was known as the Aspen Crud. It is still served today at the J-Bar, the name of the one-time soda fountain.
The hotel just reopened after four and a half months of renovations and a new, hot version of the Aspen Crud was added to J-Bar's menu. No ice cream here. Instead, bartenders take bourbon from Peach Street Distillers and add vanilla tea, cinnamon syrup and then float cream on top with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Not to be outdone, at the Four Seasons Whistler, in British Columbia, Canada, cups of the ultimate hot chocolate come in large mugs with a chocolate lattice work over top. Skiers can order the drink with a Belgian or Verona chocolate in dark, milk or white. Then they top off the beverage with three "boozy truffles" filled with either mint liquor, Baileys Irish Cream or Kahlua.
"Every resort, most especially ski resort hotels, have their own version of hot chocolate, and all - of course - claim theirs is the best. So, we set out to up the ante and actually create what we believe to be 'the best' hot chocolate drink imaginable - the $20 hot chocolate," said chef Edison Mays. "Ours consists of a number of homemade specialties, including marshmallows truffles filled with liquor. It's hard to beat."
Several other resorts across North America have also recently launched some creative winter cocktails. Here's a sample of them: